Speaking heart-to-heart to members assembled in the Conference Center for a regional conference May 4, President Gordon B. Hinckley shared his feelings of wonder and awe for the miracle of the Church, and the benevolence of God's love.
"You are part of this great miracle which we call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," he said. "I never get over it, the wonder of it, the sheer wonder of it. . . . And this is but the beginning; of that I have no doubt whatever."
Approximately 17,000 members from 14 selected stakes across the Salt Lake Valley gathered to hear President Hinckley, as well as other General Authorities, including Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy.
Some members came from stakes as close as Salt Lake's Rose Park neighborhood, while others came from as far away as Coalville, Utah, about 40 miles east of Salt Lake City.
"There is something wonderful about you, you men and women and boys and girls of faith and goodness and decency," he said.
"To think that the great God of all is interested in me and you and is concerned with our welfare and our well-being and bringing to pass His eternal purposes in our behalf. What a marvelous and wonderful thing it is that we can approach Him in prayer, that you and I are His sons and daughters in whom He has a unique and marvelous interest, and that somehow [in a way] I can't understand or fully appreciate, He will listen and hear and answer our prayers."
President Hinckley used as his text, the Savior's response to Thomas after His resurrection, to "Be not faithless, but believing," and applied it to different aspects of life. (See John 20.)
" 'Be not faithless, but believing,' " he said, "in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His reality, in His personality, in the power of the work which He did, in the majesty and wonder of the authority which He carried, and in the all encompassing blessing of the great Atonement which He wrought."
President Hinckley spoke of the "priceless" and "wonderful" and "precious" privilege it is to bear the priesthood and said, "I make a great plea to you brethren this morning to live up to the grand and sacred things which God has restored to the earth in the nature of the sacred priesthood."
He referred to a letter he received earlier in the week written by a woman in the area. "You will be speaking in conference this Sunday and I will be there," he said, paraphrasing the letter. "I wish you would say something about what has happened to my husband. He served a mission as a young man. He has done many things. He has been to the temple, but there came into his life an addiction, a terrible and destructive addiction to pornography.
"It has reached the point where there is a dark spirit in our home and I don't know what to do except to leave him as a way of getting rid of this dark and evil spirit."
President Hinckley said, "I hope that doesn't come to pass. I hope there won't be a separation and a divorce. I hope that in place of that there will be repentance.
"Leave it alone," he said of pornography. "It will utterly destroy you. I have no question of that whatever. Be loyal to the great and sacred thing which you carry in your hearts and souls and beings, the priesthood of the Almighty."
President Hinckley admonished members to believe in their ability "to do right and good things."
To the youth he said, "How wonderful you are when you live the gospel and do the right things. What a tragedy it becomes when you stray from the truth and go off into the darkness and blight your lives with unwholesome and evil things."
"I speak as an old man," he said in conclusion, "who has lived a long time, one who knows that in the natural course of events I shall be moved on before long and meet my Maker. I want to testify to you and let you know . . . that I know that God our Eternal Father lives and loves us."
For a few minutes, Sister Marjorie Hinckley shared the pulpit with her husband. She told of an experience many years ago when she and then-Elder Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve landed in Athens, Greece, and had only a few hours to be there. They asked the missionary couple who met them at the airport if there was anything they could do for them. The sister missionary asked if they could hold a meeting, have a prayer and sing the songs of Zion. During a meeting in the missionary couple's apartment, the sister missionary told Sister Hinckley, "You don't know how wonderful it feels just to be sitting in a Latter-day Saint meeting. I miss it so much."
To the Conference Center congregation, Sister Hinckley said, "What a great blessing you are in my life. We are all in this together and we can strengthen and help each other so very much."
In his address, Elder Perry recounted four events in history that members should remember and revere; namely, the First Vision; the translation of the Book of Mormon; the restoration of the priesthood; and the organization of the Church.
Elder Brough spoke of the blessings that come of approaching the Almighty in prayer. He told how his feelings of gratitude for the Lord's blessings swelled after walking among some of the impoverished in Asia while serving in the Area presidency. He concluded his comments by counseling how to improve personal prayers.
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